I lived about 45 miles north of Miami on/off for about 25 years, and pretty much avoided it like the plague.
When I thought of Miami, I thought of gangbangers & rappers, the vain, pretentious South Beach types you see on TV, a culture I didn’t understand and didn’t want to.
In 2009, I started working down there everyday, and my impressions changed right away. I drove a tow-truck around the city and the outskirts. I went to places like Little Haiti, Little Havana, Doral, Opa-Lock-a, Hialeah, and of course Miami Beach.
Between my deliveries, I used to go into the little Spanish-speaking Cuban cafes, get colados (like espressos only stronger), empanadas, croquettas & papa rellenas. Sometimes, I’d even buy a cheap Cuban cigar. Sometimes I’d even try to speak Spanish.
So my impressions changed, and the culture really started to grow on me.
Then May 15th, 2011 came and I moved to Berlin, a city a love even more. I’m going to stay in Berlin as long as it’s financially feasible. Hopefully, that’s forever, but in all likelihood, if no means to make $$ is found, I’ll be back, and Miami it will be.
Here’s a link to a short story I wrote about my tow-truck driving days. It was published at Left Hand Waving.